Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

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Going grey

Well we’re into last minute panic season again. As regular listeners will recall with 121 the disco-Carr’s debut, there were many late nights in the run up.

Same again with the Square. I did predict two years ago I’d need some last minute panic to get it finished and how right we are.

This is not being helped by a sudden flurry on the work front which has seen me go to London three days last week, same again this week (Digital Railway steering board today – Us exemplarferroequinologists know a thing or two about digital railways*), and probably the same again next week. I’ve not really even had time for blogging despite having had a week off in Devon where we took the MiniMes to see Minehead and Woody Bay (that latter not on a running day).

The chassis is being a sod but I shouldn’t really expect anything else since I’m designing something to replicate what is a tricky design anyway.

On the bodywork front we are going great guns though with the primer and a coat of black applied to give me the base for the colour. And as we all know, the Square looks great in black!

Hopefully the next post will see the chassis resolved and the loco painted. Or it might even be on the day of Warley, depending on time permitting.

*probably not.

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Too far?

It’s a rhetorical question because the answer is obviously yes.

Having had a break to visits the top left hand corner of Wales to play with waggons at the Victorian Weekend (I can confirm gravity still works in North Wales), and a break to organise the office which included erecting the fiddle yard for Penlowry (more on that in another post), I’m back going Square.

I’m now adding details to the cab. Detail I am adding is anything above the door level – anything below that level or “round the corner” of the cab sheet is not included, so handbrake, reverser, ejector, fireman’s manifold, and I’ve even decided to add the pressure gauges. It is at this point I started to question my sanity.

In the guise I’m doing there were 4 pressure gauges- boiler, vacuum, and the oil atomisers.

These are stamped out pieces of plasticard. For the vacuum and boiler gauges a groove was cut into the back and the wire representing the copper pipe glued in. For the oil atomisers, the pipes always went round the pressure gauge for expansion purposes (there being not enough of a pipe run to hide it elsewhere) so this is modelled with the pipe curving round the gauge which is glued into the middle.

Finally a needle was marked on using a 0.3mm permanent marker (remand from my uni days doing technical drawings).

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Details, details

The chimney turning is still progressing. My inability to get two chimneys to look the same is a bit embarrassing. However, we will get there. Here’s the one that’s done. A bit of filler round the bottom will see it properly landed.

I have also added the blower pipes to both smokeboxes and the ejector pipe to the bottom end. The ejector pipe does a bit more of a graceful wiggle when it goes past the dome in real life but I decided not to replicate that. I have limits!

In addition I’ve set about the cab details. Normally I’m not too fussed about that, particularly on a D/F where the crew fill the cab doors but with the Square there is the ruddy great sunroof (most useful on warm days) so I’ve taken a bit of effort.

The regulators are made out of a spare bit of kit from the Patriarch’s collection.

These where fitted to a length of brass wire to make the regulators.

The cab details were then knocked up with a bit of plasticard for the shelf and for the folded up seats. Here is a view from the fireman’s side. I still need to take a slitting saw to the regulator handles to separate them.

It’ll do the job. All the rest of the cab fittings will go on the cab upper section and the floor that is part of the main body.

You’ll also note that the photo above shows the quadrants have gone. The photo above that shows 1 of the quadrants and 1 missing. I need to do something about it because the carpet monster in the room is deep pile dark blue and is very good at eating anything useful. I don’t think the lack of quadrants is an issue but I may need to put down a mat under my chair to protect modelling works from the bitey bitey carpet teeth.

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Square domes and clack valves

Yes I’ve been turning Square domes. Like you do. These have been made with aluminium rod on my Myford Super 7. I also put the hole in the top for the safety valves. I’m really pleased with them and I’ve managed to make them both close enough to the same.

I’ve also fitted the clack valves and with the domes and clacks it’s really starting to look the part.

I’m part way through turning the chimneys but they are a bit more fiddly so it’ll be another post before you see those.

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A gift horse

In my slow but steady build of my Earl of Merioneth, I had, in thinking ahead, come to the conclusion that the cab was going to be a right sod. Getting the angles right would be difficult. Getting the angles right 4 times over would be really difficult.

This being the case, in discussing a visit to the pub with my friend Paul, I asked if he wouldn’t mind 3D printing me one. For the listeners who have been following my blog for a while will know, Paul is slowly introducing some properly good 3D printed kits and had started work on a model of the Square. He normally makes and models in 7mm scale but it becomes very easy with technology to convert 7mm scale to 4mm scale (or any other scale for that matter) on a whim- although worth noting it is generally easier going down in size not up as blowing up a model shows off all the short cuts you can get away with in the smaller size.

Now if you bear with me a while I think I should take you on a quick personal history lesson. I first met Paul back when I was trainee firing. It was my first day on Blanche, I was rubbish, my fireman not much better and Paul was exasperated enough to exclaim that we were proving that two half wits don’t make a full one. After this inauspicious start, I got better at firing and got to know Paul better to such an extent that we used to get rostered out together on the locos a lot. You could tell when we were having a bad day because we’d have to talk about the engine rather than something else. That’s still the case today. Earlier in the year on the Coffee Pot at Beamish we explored both ends of the pressure gauge and determined once and for all that neither end is much good and somewhere in the middle is much more pleasant all round.

Paul and I also worked together on loco rebuilds, most notably Blanche when she needed a new boiler and Mersin Emrys in 2005. In fact we were ME’s crew for the Vintage weekend when it was relaunched in full livery as seen in this photo of its inaugural run on the Saturday.

Paul’s career and mine have also taken similar paths having both worked in Derby, both worked for the same consultancy, and both on the same project in Wellington, NZ, in 2007. While I have continued consulting, Paul now runs EDM models full time from his home in York, importing narrow gauge stuff from the US for sale over here and also, as mentioned, designing and producing his own kits.

A few days after speaking to him about the cab for the Square, Paul turned up with said cab and the rest of the loco body underneath it. He told me he’d had enough of watching me hack plasticard around a crap kit and so I could have a whole Square for the price of a mention on the blog.

With this injection of pace, this has allowed the project to roll on further. I should add that I had already decided not to use the motor from the GP40 as it is not the best and so I’d got a Chinese motor from Tramfabriek. Added to which, the prototype length 3D printed body is too long for the split chassis that comes with the Langley kit so I’m going to produce a chassis to house the GP40 bogies and am now in a position where the only thing I’ll use from the kit is the front frame section for the bogies and I’m not totally convinced by that either!

Anyway, rather that waffle on any further I’ll just shove a load of pictures at the end of this so you can see the progress.

And remember, EDM Models ( are going to produce a kit of the Square in 7mm and probably 4mm (email EDM if interested because it’s more likely to happen with known demand). You heard it here first. It’ll be excellent. Go on the website and have a look at some of the 7mm kits and you’ll see what I mean.

The print

Toolbox manufacture

Toolboxes and chequer plate on the tank slopes added

Punching out the circular covers from what I believe we’re going to be sight glasses on the oil tank ends.

Oil tanks

Headlight battery boxes

What the chassis might look like – with a plate over the top at each end to hold the bogie in, the 3D printed boiler barrel over the top screwed into the side of the foundation ring area, and then the whole assembly mounted up into the body and screwed into the well tank area.

The progress to date. The marks on the top are the location of the clack valves.

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Mountain range

One of the reasons I’ve been a bit quiet on the modelling this last week or so is because I’ve been working on a present for t’missus who has a significant birthday today.

It all started when I got a text from her a few short weeks ago.

This is not unusual. I often get the “wouldn’t it be nice if we had one of these” type home improvement texts. This one though I decided I would action rather quicker than most I get!

So one evening while sitting next to t’missus while she watched something on the telly I sketched up the plans.

Then took her to B&Q (romantic I know), because “I needed some timber”. What for I was asked. “I always need timber”, I replied.

Then with some cutting up (in the very messy garage!)…

And gluing and screwing…

And painting…

It was ready for this morning’s reveal.

And it has gone down very well so Happy Birthday Amy-Lou; here’s to the next **years!

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Spoke too soon

I knew I shouldn’t have said there was no stopping me. No soon than I had and holidays and work got in the way. Fortunately work has progressed on the Square.

The first picture shows some more of the brutality required to the Langley body to make it Square. Both ends had the wagon top boiler cut down and then ground flatter still.

They then had the representation of the tops of the tanks and the boiler cover added.

Next will be to fashion the tank ends, tool boxes and oil tanks.